Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Things that make me smile :)

Dear Avery,
This week has definitely been better than last! We haven't had any crazy catastrophes (knock on wood!), your dog is healthy again, and your dad is home from NYC. We have a lot of things to look forward to in the next couple of weeks, so I am getting excited!

I just got back from Dr. Link's office and things are still looking good (other than the obvious fact that I am HUGE!!!!)I'm not showing any immediate signs of labor at this point so we are safe for the time being. Your swimming pool has gotten extra large, so your welcome for that. Due to all the extra amniotic fluid, I am measuring in at 35 weeks when I am only 29 weeks along. I feel like I am going to explode through my bellybutton if I accidentally bump into something too hard! Dr. Link said to stay off of my feet as much as possible and drink a lot of water, so that is what I am doing while I am writing to you :). It has become really hard to sleep because there isn't really a comfortable position for this big ol belly. Your dad has learned to love and accept my giant pillow fortress that inevitably takes over the bed each night.

The first thing that I am super excited about is that we have a photoshoot on Saturday morning!!! Courtney Ellis is the photographer from NILMDTS who will be at the hospital to capture all of the special moments after you are born. She has graciously agreed to meet up with us before you get here to get pictures of our family while you are still in my tummy. We are so happy to have this opportunity. I want to document every aspect of your life and we are very fortunate to have compassionate people who are willing to make that happen. I am totally stumped on what to wear for the pictures, so I might need to make a shopping trip in the next couple of days.

I know I have told you how wonderful our friends are, but sometimes I still find myself in awe thinking about the wonderful support system that we have. I don't think that we could make it through the rough days without the love and support of our friends and family. We are very lucky. Next weekend some friends of ours are getting together to attend mass with us at our church. They are planning a special brunch to celebrate your life afterward. I feel so incredibly blessed and excited! You are so special sweet baby and there are so many people who love you!

                           I love you Princess,

                                                                  My 29 week belly

                                        A bettter depiction of how big my belly actually is-HUGE!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Crazy Week

Dear Avery,
     It has been a crazy week.  This past Friday after I had left for work, your daddy woke up to a loud bang in the basement--the water heater had rusted out and exploded!  Within the hour, the furnace started making crazy noises and it broke too.  We were able to get some people out to fix both of those that day (thanks to your Yay-yay hanging out at our house to let them in) so we thought we were in the clear.  Your dad took a shower as soon as he got home from work since he wasn't able to get one that morning. For some reason or another, he walked back down into the basement in the nick of time to realize that the floor was flooded again!  We called the water heater people back and they said they could send someone out first thing the next morning.

    Saturday was your dad's 29th  birthday.  The water heater guy showed up to check things out around 9:00 and he discovered that this round of flooding was caused because of unrelated plumbing problems that had nothing to do with the new water heater.  Daddy and Brandon tried to unclog the drain to no avail.  We couldn't get anyone to come out and fix it until Monday, so we spent the weekend at Yay-yay and G-daddy's house. 

     After mass on Sunday morning, we went to check out Calvary cemetery. It is where we will lay you to rest if God does not bless us with a miracle.  It was a hard trip, but I am glad that we took it.  There is a special section for the "Holy Innocents."  It is beautiful and heart wrenching all at the same time.  There is a gorgeous memorial  statue of God holding a baby in the palm of his hand.  There are tiny little graves as far as the eye can see.  Some date back long before I was ever born and some are covered in fresh clay.  I would love to know all of their stories.  It really brought into perspective how many others have walked in our shoes.  My favorite thing about this cemetery is that they hold a prayer service for all of the lost babies on the last Wednesday of every month.  I really like the thought of having other people pray for you and remember you even when we are not able to be there.

     We woke up Monday morning to Tucker throwing up.  When I turned on the the lights to clean it up, your Dad noticed his face.  Tucker's cheeks were super puffy and swollen and he looked miserable.  I rushed him up to the emergency vet as your dad drove off to the airport to catch his flight to NYC for the week.  I begged him not to leave, but work was making him go and there was nothing that he could do about it.

     The doctor at the emergency vet said that Tucker was having an allergic reaction to something.  He gave him some medicine and fluids for dehydration and sent us back home after the swelling went down.  While I went back to work, Yay-yay stayed at our house to let the plumber in and keep and eye on Tuck.  Luckily, he was able to fix everything and our house was finally back in working order.  Tucker was really sleepy for the rest of the day, but seemed to be getting better.

     Tuesday Tucker seemed alright, but Wednesday he started to seem a little sickly again.  He wouldn't touch his food all day and acted really lethargic.  This morning I woke up to Tucker throwing up and shaking.  I took him to his normal vet so that they could run some tests.  It turns out that Tucker is allergic to his vaccines.  He got really sick this time last year too, but we never thought to make the connection.  I think that we finally have it under control and he is starting to feel better.  Next year we will space out his vaccines and take precautions so that he doesn't get sick from them.

     Tomorrow is when your daddy will come home from New York.  We are going to enjoy a nice quiet dinner and relax from all of the craziness of this past week.  I won't rest easy until he gets back, but I am starting to feel relief now that his arrival is less than 24 hours away.  I have panicked about going into preterm labor while he was away.  The possibility that he could not be here for your birth scares me more than anything in the world.  I am thinking positive though, and I am not going to let myself dwell on that thought.

      The highlight of my week is that I get to feel you move inside of me.  I love to lay on the couch and watch my belly change shape--it is very surreal!  Up until this point, I have just seen little "pops" when you kick, but now my belly moves altogether.  It was completely lopsided a few minutes ago from your bottom sticking out on my right side.  It is an awesome sight to see!
                                                                           I love you sweet girl,
 28 week belly (looks more like a 32/33 week belly from all the extra amniotic fluid)
                                                Your sick puppy Tucker snuggling with you
                                         Your sick puppy feeling a little better and giving me kisses

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sleepless night...

Dear Avery,

    I was up all night thinking of you.  I thought I had finally come to a place of peace and acceptance, but I realize that place will not come until you are here in our arms.  I have been praying every day for God to lead us to make the right decisions for you.  I thought that we had it figured out, but I am so filled with doubt that it is consuming my every thought. 

    I was just told about a family whose children had Jeune Syndrome.  It is a genetic disorder that is characterized by most of your symptoms.  In my mind, I had ruled out the thought of your condition being genetic but now I am starting to worry that it is a possibility.  I had also put it in my mind that you would have no more than an hour of life after your birth.  I am starting to doubt that as well. 

     The family had the titanium rib surgery for their first son about 12 years ago.  He never left the hospital, but he lived for two years.  They chose not to do it for their second son, and brought him home instead.  He lived for 4 months without intervention. 

     What if you take a breath?  What if we could actually bring you home?  At what point do we draw the line between causing you to suffer and saving your life?  I wish that you could tell me what you need baby girl, but it’s not that simple.  I need a sign to show me that we are doing the right things.

    I know that we have excellent doctors and I don’t doubt their ability to do their job, but what if? 

                                                   I love you so much,

                                                          27 week belly

Friday, January 13, 2012

Update from MFM appointment 1/13/12

Dear Avery,
      We just got back from our MFM appointment with Dr. Weeks.  You were just as beautiful as ever sweet girl.  You moved your arms, kicked your legs, and arched your back the whole time.  We caught another adorable yawn on camera and got some new 3-D pictures to show off.

    Dr. Weeks didn't really find anything new, but he confirmed a lot of things that we had already suspected.  He told us that your chest is incredibly small.  It hasn't really grown at all since the last time he saw it.  Your heart fills most of your chest cavity and it will definitely compromise your lung development.  I still have a lot of excess amniotic fluid, which leads him to believe that your esophagus is too constricted or is not developed enough for you to swallow.  He told us that he is fairly certain that your condition is lethal.

    I have really struggled with the thought that we could make the wrong decisions once you are born.  I do not want to cause you any unnecessary pain or suffering by forcing your body to live once you are ready to go, but I also don't want to give up on you if you truly have a chance. I am scared of leaving the hospital with any regrets as to whether we did too much or didn't do enough.

      I asked Dr. Weeks what he would do if you were his daughter.   I know that he is a Christian  man and I have a strong feeling that he is also a father.  I trusted that he would lead us in the right direction.  He told us that if you were his, he wouldn't use extraordinary measures to keep you alive.  He said that he would keep the time after your birth as peaceful as possible so that we could enjoy the intimate moments of your life as a family.  My heart was telling me that this was the right path for us, but it was very reassuring to hear it from him as well.

     He said that I am still at risk for preterm labor and that there is no way to accurately predict when that time will come.  His best guess is that I will be able to make it past the 30 week mark, but that there was no way to be certain.  We talked about the possibility of you being born still and that there could be an appointment in the future where we are unable to find your heartbeat.  He wanted for us to know that there is plenty of medical and scientific evidence to show that you already know us.  You can recognize our voices and you already feel our love.  He wanted for us to rest assured that if this becomes reality, we have already bonded with you throughout the time that we have spent together.

     After our appointment, we met with a perinatal hospice nurse to discuss our options.  Her name is Karen and she was very helpful and loving.  She showed us the room where you will be born.  It is away from most of the labor and delivery rooms so we would have plenty of privacy.  There is another large room next door to the delivery room where our family and friends could wait without having to use the main waiting room.  She talked to us about laying you to rest and suggested some options to celebrate your life.  She showed us some beautiful resting gowns that they have for babies like you and said that they would make sure that you have something to wear if none of your clothes fit.  It was comforting to see where we will be and to hear how accommodating they will be for our delicate situation. 

     Regardless of the outcome, you will always be our first child.  Your brothers and sisters will know all about you and you will always be a part of our family.  I love you to the moon and back and I pray that you will not suffer during your time on earth.  Keep kicking beautiful angel.



Thursday, January 12, 2012

Feeling more positive

Dear Avery,
     Things are starting to look up after this past week.  I have had two full days with no tears. I talked about you of course, but I did it with joy instead of sadness.  My goal is to show you happy days during your time on earth.  I can't promise that I won't get into a slump again, but I want to make the most of this time where you are safe from harm. 
     I can't change the future, although I still pray about it everyday, I have no guarantee that you will still be here tomorrow, a week from now, or next year.  What I do know is that you are inside of me kicking me in the ribs right now.   You give a mean bladder punch and you get the cutest hiccups ever.  You are strong little girl.  You are safe and you are loved.  I am going to try my hardest to keep that as my focus from this point forward.  I want to enjoy every second that I am blessed to share with you.  I want to remember every movement, every milestone, everything that has anything to do with you sweet girl.  It is hard to see all of those wonderful things through the tears, but that is my resolution.

     Your Mimi and Papa are on their way to Kentucky right now.  They should get in sometime this afternoon.  They can't wait to see you again tomorrow!  Yay-yay talks to you in my belly all the time.  She is excited to see you again too. We all love you so much.  You are a lucky girl to have such a strong and supportive family.  I love that every ultrasound has become a family affair.  We all just want to know you better.

Jeremiah 29:11- 
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
                                  I love you forever and always,

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rough Week

Dear Avery,

      This past week has been pretty tough for me.  As we get closer to the day of your birth, it is becoming very concrete to me that the time where I can safely protect you from the world is coming to an end.  I greet the world “belly first” these days which is first and foremost a blessing because it lets everyone know that you are here.   Sometimes though, it makes it much harder to cope emotionally.  People ask about you constantly-“Is this your first?” “What will you name her?” “Are you soooo excited?” These are the usual comments and I can generally smile through and answer when it is a complete stranger asking.  The comment that is the hardest for me to hear is “Just wait until she is ____ old.  Then you will really have your hands full!”  I want nothing more than to have my hands full raising you and it kills me to hear people complain about this blessing.  I know that it is always said with good intentions, but it is really hard knowing that I will most likely never get that opportunity when others are taking it for granted.

     Everything I see and everything I do makes me think of you.   This is both a blessing and a burden.  I want you to be on my mind.  Your life is the most important thing in my world.  The burden is only because I literally have no control over my emotions.  Every time I see a little girl with her mom or hear a baby cry I am reminded of the struggle that we are facing daily.  I am happy to be facing this struggle because you are worth every second of it, but it has been the biggest trial of my life. 

    Yesterday in church, they did a separate collection for the Respect Life campaign.  They talked about the thousands of babies who are aborted each year and it brought on an unstoppable stream of tears.  I want nothing more than to have you in my life and there are people everywhere who choose to end the lives of their babies.  I have friends who desperately want a child of their own and are unable to conceive.  I understand that the people who choose to end their child’s life are in a difficult place and it is not my job to judge their decisions, but it is just not fair. 

        You are wanted.  You are loved.  You could have a wonderful life with our little family.  But the truth of the matter is, I don’t get to make that decision.  I chose to give you all of the life that I can because you deserve it sweet baby.  It is ultimately up to God and only God.   I pray every day that he will grant me the ability to be at peace with His choices for you.

      I have been reading a lot lately.  Heaven is for Real and I Will Carry You helped me to realize that even though I love you with every fiber of my being, there is someone who loves you more.  Your life is very purposeful sweet angel and only God knows the plan that He has for you.    He is a loving God and he does not relish in our pain.  He understands the suffering that we are enduring because he has been there before.  The most powerful thought that I came away with that one way or another, you will be healed.  It might not be here on earth, but God will make you whole.

     When Lazarus’ sisters mourned over his death, Jesus mourned with them.  He wept on his way to raise Lazarus from the dead because of the suffering that his followers were enduring.  He knew that Lazarus would live, but they did not.  He knew that there would be a joyous celebration, but they did not.  He wept for the pain of his people.  I am certain that he is weeping for us.  He knows that this is all part of a larger plan, but He also knows that we do not understand that plan yet.  A very wise woman (your Great Grandma Ogburn) told your dad that a miracle would come out of this trial.  It might not be the miracle that we requested, but there will be a miracle none the less.  I cling to the hope that we will one day understand why this is all happening.  Until that day, I have to learn to let go and let God run things.  It is much easier said than done.

                                         I love you princess,
                                                                25 weeks
                                                                       26 weeks

Monday, January 2, 2012

Flashbacks from 2011

Dear Avery,
     In light of the new year, I have been looking back and reflecting on all of the things that happened in 2011.  All in all, it was a good year.  It is hard to believe how different life is from this point one year ago until now, but I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.

     Your dad and I celebrated our first anniversary in May of 2011.  He had to go to New York for a business trip the week of our anniversary, so I met him up there to celebrate that weekend.  It was the first time that I had ever gone to NYC and we had a ton of fun together.  We saw Jersey Boys, ate delicious foods, toured beautiful buildings, and really just enjoyed time with each other.  I brought the top tier of our wedding cake as my carry on and we ate a good chunk of it in the hotel.  The last day that we were there we got the brilliant idea to make a sign that read "It's our first anniversary, want some cake?" and take the rest of our cake to the Today Show at about 5:00am.  We stood out in the rain all morning and ended up getting interviewed on TV.  That is something special that your dad and I will always remember.  This was also about the time that we started dreaming about adding you to our family.

     A couple of weeks later, we welcomed your Uncle Cone to the family.  He and your Aunt Laura had a beautiful wedding in June and your dad and I were lucky enough to be part of it.  It was the first time, other than our wedding of course, that your dad and I walked down the isle in a wedding together.  I like to think that we had the best entrance into the reception with the leap frog/bouquet toss combo.  We had so much fun that night and enjoyed celebrating with Aunt Laura and Uncle Chris. 

     In early July, we went to Florida and your cousins Wyatt and Jackson met each other for the first time.  We had a lot of fun in the sun and enjoyed seeing all of your Brunson family and your extended Ogburn family.  It was Jackson's first trip to the beach and he had a blast!

     In late July, the most important thing of all happened-I found out that I was pregnant with you!  I had bought a bunch of early detection pregnancy tests and couldn't wait to see that double pink line.  I tested on a Thursday and it was negative.  I tested again on Friday morning and it was negative again, so your dad and I just figured that this was not our month and went about our lives.  Daddy left for Chicago that day for Zinser's bachelor party and wouldn't be back until Sunday.  I went out for dinner with some girls and enjoyed myself.  The next morning (Saturday), I saw that I still had two pregnancy tests left so I decided to take one just in case.  I took it, laid it on the bathroom counter and left the room to talk on the phone.  I was debating driving to Atlanta to visit Mallory and Kai at the hospital, but I was scared to drive there by myself.  I finally got up the courage to drive there so I called Mallory and told her I would be on my way.  I happened to walk back into the bathroom and saw the test laying on the counter. I nonchalantly picked it up-expecting to see a negative result- and couldn't believe my eyes when it read positive.  I have never been more happy in my life than I was in that very moment.  I called Mal back and told her the news and that I needed to stay here so I could tell your dad in person when he came home the next day.  Your Aunt Laura came over with Otis that night to watch movies, and of course I spilled the beans to her--I was just too excited to hold it in!  I made a sign with neon letters that said "Surprise!  You're going to be a daddy!" and had Lindsay Spies drive me to the airport to get Ben and your dad.  When your daddy walked up, he saw the sign and couldn't believe it.  We were both ecstatic to be your parents.  We told Yay-yay and G-daddy that night be dressing Jackson in a homemade shirt that said "My Aunt Bear is Preggo" and we told Mimi and Papa the next morning by having Garden Grams decorate their yard with a sign that said "Smile!  Wyatt's gonna have a new cousin."  Needless to say, everyone loved you from the very first day that we knew you existed.

     I relished in all of the pregnancy milestones.  I would proudly forward all of my weekly update emails to your grandmas and daddy with messages like  "baby is the size of an olive/orange/banana/insert fruit here."  I so enjoyed finding your fruit of the week in the grocery story and imagining what you would be like swimming in my tummy.  I always drew a line with a ruler to see just how long your were supposed to be each week.  Sometimes I would even turn the line in to a little baby picture, cut it out, and bring it home to show your daddy.  He thought I was silly sometimes, but I know he liked to see your size too.

     We went for your NT scan in September and got to see you for the first time.  You were tiny, and kind of looked like an alien, but you were beautiful!  We got to see you wiggle your little arms and rub your little eye.  It was magical.  I never knew how it was possible to love something so much until I saw you--you were perfect.  All of our scans came back perfect and Dr. Link assured me that with my age, health, family history, and the results of this test, that this would be an easy pregnancy with a healthy baby at the end.  There is no way for us to know at that point what the future would hold.

     I had a couple of weeks of nausea, but it never really got too bad.  I honestly kind of enjoyed it in a roundabout sort of way because it reminded me that you were in there.  I ordered a doppler and was able to find your heartbeat relatively early.  It was the most beautiful sound in the world.  I listened to it constantly to reassure myself that you were still in there thriving.

     I started to show a little bit around 15 or 16 weeks and I had a pretty good sized bump by the time I went for my anatomy scan at 18 weeks.  I loved the fact that my belly was starting to show because it meant that you were getting bigger.  I loved when people would ask me about my pregnancy or acknowledge the fact that you were in there at all. 

     On November 16th, we went in for our anatomy scan ultrasound.  I was soooo excited because this was the day that we would find out whether you were a boy or a girl.  We had already settled on Avery if you were a girl, but were still having trouble committing to a boy name.  The tech scanned you and took all of your measurements, but didn't talk much.  She told us that you were a little girl and we were both ecstatic.  We dreamed about your future and joked with her asking if you were the prettiest baby she had ever seen.  She left the room for a really long time because she said that the doctor needed to come in to review everything.  It never crossed my mind that this was not standard protocol.  We had about 10 minutes of pure joy and happiness in the fact that we were going to have a baby girl and I called you Mimi and Papa and Uncle Chris and Aunt Lindsay to let them know the good news. 

     We were still waiting for the doctor to come in and review everything, so I told your dad that he could go on back to work if he would like.  The tech very sternly said, "NO! You need to stay because the doctor still needs to go over everything with you."  I still didn't suspect anything.  I went to the bathroom on our way to Dr. Link's office to talk and when I came out the nurse started rambling on about when I check into the hospital and all of the different things that I need to do.  I started to get uneasy and this point and rushed into the office to tell your dad that something was not right.  She clearly thought that Dr. Link had already talked with us about your results, but he had not. 

     When we were in Dr. Link's office, he told us that there were some discrepancies in your bone growth so he wanted us to go to the hospital to get another ultrasound from a specialist.  He assured us that her organs looked good, but the bones didn't seem to be growing the right way.  I broke down.  Your daddy held me and told me that everything was going to be alright.  He kept saying  "her heart is fine, bones don't matter--she is going to be alright."  I tried to believe him, but I just felt really numb all over.  We went to the MFM doctor for the first time and they said that they thought you had achondroplasia.  I was shocked but relieved to know that it was something where you could still live a healthy and happy life.  They wanted us to come back two days later for another ultrasound with Dr. Weeks.  That is the day that they discovered your bell shaped chest and told us that this could be fatal.  They politely mentioned the possibility of "terminating the pregnancy", but your dad and I were both very adamant that this was not an option that we were willing to take. We were lucky to have compassionate doctors who did not try and push the subject.  They simply let us know that it was and option and moved on with your care. I was crushed.  I couldn't imagine life without you and it all felt like a dream. 

     We have been going to the doctor every couple of weeks to get to where we are with your diagnosis today.   Although each appointment is tough, I have enjoyed every second that I get to see your beautiful face up on the screen.  I feel like I get to know you more with every scan and I love to watch you wiggle.  You have been kicking up a storm constantly letting me know that you are in there and I just recently saw my belly move for the first time.  I just want you to know that even though I grieve for the future, I have no regrets at all.  I would not change a thing and I am just as happy to be pregnant with you today as I was the day that I found out you existed.  Even though my happiness sometimes comes out as tears, I love every moment that I have with you.  You are a precious gift from God and I hope and pray that he will let me hold on to you for many years to come.  Even if that is not his will, you are still worth it.  Every bit of grief and sadness is worth having you in my life even if it is only for a fleeting moment.

        I love you more than words can express,



Sunday, January 1, 2012

You have a room

Dear Avery,
    I feel like these past two weeks off of work have flown by.  It is hard to believe that Christmas has already come and gone and that we are already into 2012--the year of Avery.  I am feeling good, but have had some emotional days lately.  I am coming to terms with all that we know, but I am still feeling so incredibly blessed to be your mom.  I love you so much.  I have been spending a lot of time getting things ready for your arrival lately.  Anything that I can do involving you is my favorite way to pass the time. 
      I decided that I want you to have a room of your own.  Your daddy wants this for you too.  I am perfectly aware of the fact that you may never physically use this room, but it will be here in our house and it will belong to you.  You are our baby and you deserve a beautiful nursery.  Your brothers and sisters may eventually share the room with you, but it will still be yours.  You will always be a part of our family and we will do everything we can to help your memory live on. 

     First, we cleared out all of the other furniture in the room to make space for your things.  Then we decided on a paint color for the walls.  We went with a neutral beige color to cover the awful mustard yellow that was already there.  Your Mimi and I worked on the trim together, but then it got a little to strong for me to stay in there, so Mimi finished up the rest of the rolling.

Then, I started to work on decorations for the walls.  I glued wooden letters to pretty scrapbook paper and then cut the scrap paper off to spell your name.  I glued the letters to pink ribbon and added pink bows at the end before hanging them up.

I put the shelves back in their places and re-hung the curtains.  I hung your clothes and blanket from the curtain rod because I don't want to hide them in a closet.  I then put some of your special presents out on the shelf to display.

We still have a lot left to do, but I find comfort in the fact that you have a place in our home.  Your daddy and I picked out a crib on Friday night and it is almost put together.  I also picked up a frame for the beautiful print that Mrs. Terri had blessed by the Pope, but we still need to find the perfect spot to hang it.  My next venture is to recreeate a sign that my friend Jennie shared with me from Pinterest- "No one else will ever know the strength of my love for you.  After all, you're the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside." I cried and cried when I read it-it is sooo true sweet girl.

                 All of my love,